Red Bull Car Park Drift crowns first local champion
The appetite of sports car fanatics in Jamaica has been whet following the conclusion of the Red Bull Car Park Drift competition on the weekend at Catherine Hall, Montego Bay, St James.
Come December 7-8, when champion Nicholas 'Tazz' Barnes represents the black, green and gold of Jamaica at the Red Bull Car Park Drift final in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the full course meal will be delivered.
Barnes' overall three-round performances of 265, 270 and 270, proved good enough to outgun second-place Cleve Ottey, who scored 269, 255 and 270 and third-place Sheldon Johnson, who achieved scores of 222, 264 and 207.
The best 20 local drifters took part in the event.
Barnes, the newly crowned 'Drift King' of Jamaica, believes his latest achievement could breathe life into a sport that is rapidly growing in this part of the world.
"I would say most definitely. We know it as dexterity, but what we did was to turn it up another notch and did drifting. If you go worldwide, the drift scene is massive and drifting is a genre by itself. It's also a step in the right direction for us all as competitors and racing enthusiasts," Barnes said.
The champion, who rocked an old-school, but modified vehicle, is expected to don a new ride in Saudi Arabia later this year and wishes he had the choice to keep that car, despite the incentive for the winner at the grand finale.
"My car is a 1986 Toyota Corolla. It has a 4A-GE 20 valve engine, with a six-speed sequential gearbox. I choose that car because for drifting, rear-wheel drive is the preferred car for that. There is a thing called seat-time and the driver and car have to be at one to do certain stuff. Every car behaves differently so I would have definitely felt more comfortable in my car, but as a good driver you have to adjust," said the 23-year-old Barnes.
Germany-born and one of Europe's most successful drivers, Johannes Hountondji, who was present at the championship, spoke on the shock factor he experienced when he realised the appetite that Jamaicans carry for the adrenaline-filled sport.
"For me it was a mind-blowing experience. Why did I as a complete car nut all my life, didn't hear about Jamaica having this culture?" Hountondji questioned.
"These stories have never been told through the channels that I consume in Europe. This is the most exciting event that I've seen, in terms of how everything clicked with the music, energy and drivers," said Hountondji.